The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the dominance of ecommerce over in-store shopping. At the same time, up-and-coming technologies such as chatbots and digital wallets are changing the way that customers interact with brands.
For business owners, these changes demand action. And there are simple things you can do to stay ahead of the curve, from optimising your website to knowing what’s next on the technical horizon. Here are a few quick improvements you can make to ensure that your site will keep running smoothly as your audience grows.
1. Compress your images
Hi-res images use up a lot of bandwidth just to load properly. By “bandwidth,” we mean the amount of data (like media and content) that can be transferred between a website and its visitors. Large image files often take up an unfair share of a website’s bandwidth. This leads to slower website loading times – not ideal, as long load times mean customers are more likely to abandon your site.
The solution is compressing your images, which means finding the happy medium between the smallest possible file size and the best possible quality. Basically, compression is a way of reducing an image’s size without distorting its dimensions. There are a number of free image compression tools available, all you have to do is upload the original image, click a few buttons, and you’ll be able to download a more optimised version of the image, which you can then upload to your site.
2. Evaluate your web hosting plan
By optimising images, you can make the most of the bandwidth that your website already has. But if you want to take things a step further, you can also upgrade to a web hosting plan that includes more bandwidth per month.
Most shared hosting plans (in which your website shares a web server’s resources with other sites) offer multiple plans, each with an increasing amount of bandwidth, storage, and RAM. For a few pounds more each month, many shared hosting plans even offer unlimited bandwidth.
If your business website is performing really well, and outgrowing even the high end of your traffic expectations, then you might also consider upgrading from shared to VPS or dedicated hosting, both of which allocate more server resources to your website alone. Most of the time, you won’t need to switch your hosting provider to upgrade to a VPS or dedicated plan – many providers offer all three server types.
3. Keep up with the latest tech trends
New technologies are also changing the nature of ecommerce. Chatbots, digital wallets, and multichannel marketing are becoming increasingly important parts of the customer experience, influencing the way people make purchases and interact with brands. Plan your strategy in advance by keeping an eye on some more of the top trends in new tech.
Chatbots: Chatbots are a versatile tool, useful in every area from sales and marketing to customer service. They’re steadily increasing in popularity, too, which is largely driven by Millennials. This influential group chooses live chat as its preferred way to communicate with brands. And it’s not just customers that benefit, either: companies could save up to 30% in customer service spending by using chatbots.
Chatbots are a versatile tool. To get the most out of them, ask yourself a few questions: Where on your site do you want the chatbot to be located? Do you want customers to be able to connect with a live person? What kinds of information will your customers likely be looking for?
Digital wallets: Digital wallets, credit cards, and debit cards are the top three ecommerce payment methods in the world right now, and digital wallets are set to gain even more popularity in the coming years.
China is currently the largest ecommerce market in the world, and its two most popular digital wallets (Alipay and WeChat) both recorded over 1.1 billion active users in Q3 2019. Most ecommerce website builders offer easy integrations with popular digital wallets like PayPal and Apple Pay, so this is an easy trend to incorporate into an online store.
Multi-channel marketing: In a world where the individual person has an average of 8.6 social media accounts, it’s important to integrate the customer experience across multiple channels. Over the last year, marketers using three or more channels in any single campaign achieved a 287% higher purchase rate than those using just one channel.
Different channels have different strengths, and it’s best to build your marketing strategy with that in mind. For example, social media channels like Facebook and Instagram are great for driving engagement and brand awareness through comments and shares, while text messages are better for communicating at the later stages of the customer journey, with abandoned cart reminders or shipping status updates.
About the Author
Maura Monaghan is a tech writer for Website Builder Expert, a site dedicated to helping users not only create a website, but to make a success of it. Whether it’s an online portfolio, an ecommerce shop, or a new blog, Website Builder Expert is on hand to give users an online ‘leg-up’ through detailed articles outlining how to build, host and design your company website.